New to You (1): Kelsey Reviews Parallel by Lauren Miller {+ a giveaway}

As you may have heard (or read) I love a good reread. I read some of my favorite books pretty often. But what I don’t do it write a new review for them. I review them after I read it for the first time and then that is it for my review. Sometimes I think I want to write a new one, but there is nothing more powerful then the words you use after your first time finishing a book.

I was thinking about this when I finished my 3rd read of Lauren Miller’s Parallel. I wanted a new review but I didn’t want to write a new one since I loved my old one. Then it hit me, have a friend that hasn’t read it read and review it. Brilliant!

Welcome to New to You.

New to You is a new feature where I will have people, that are interested, read my favorite books they haven’t yet read. So you haven’t read Anna and the French Kiss or Twenty Boy Summer or What Happens Next? Well now is your chance to do so and review it on my blog. If you are interested in taking part of this feature feel free to contact me on Twitter, email, Instagram DM, Facebook…you get the gist. If you know how to find me, find me. And if you don’t I may just come after you and ask if you would be interested. 🙂

First up on New to You we have Kelsey. She’ll be reviewing Parallel by Lauren Miller and I’m really excited for you guys to see what she thought. (Scroll to the end for a giveaway).

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New to You (1): Kelsey Reviews Parallel by Lauren Miller {+ a giveaway}Parallel by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen
on April 8th 2014
Amazon, Goodreads

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.

Andi has always been one of my friends I turn to when I need a good book recommendation. I don’t think I’ve come across one that she told me to read that I didn’t love. It has got to the point where I made an entire Goodreads shelf dedicated to books Andi wants (i.e. needs/forces/yells) at me to read. One of these chosen books was Parallel by Lauren Miller. Now, I don’t usually read these kinds of time travel, multi-universe type books, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it. But alas, I read this beauty in one day and, as always, Andi didn’t disappoint.

The book starts with the main character Abby filming a movie in LA and celebrating her 18th birthday, but you can tell she feels out of place, and that this life isn’t the dream that she had for herself. She wanted to go to Northwestern to be a journalist. That was it. She was set on it. Journalist or bust. But on her first day of senior year she had to make a last minute change to her schedule (that she spent forever getting just right so she would have THE PERFECT schedule and GPA to get into Northwestern – being a perfectionist myself I understand that frustration). She was to choose between an Astronomy Class and a Drama Class and went with the latter option. Flash forward and that decision has plunked her right in LA filming a movie.

The morning after her 18th birthday Abby wakes up and she doesn’t know where she is. Now, if that we’re me I would probably pass out after having a panic attack, but she figures out that she is at Yale, in her dorm room, that she shares with her college roommate. Wait, what? This is where I had to try to keep everything straight between Abby’s parallel worlds. She has to figure out what memories and choices led her here, at Yale – not LA, not Northwestern.

Luckily for Abby, her best friend, Caitlin, is also going to school at Yale. She explains what she thinks is happening between parallel worlds (let me tell you what thought would never cross my mind). The one thing I found a little crazy, was how calm, rational and completely understanding Caitlin was of this theory. I would probably want to have my friends head examined, but that’s just me. However, Caitlin becomes her lifeline in helping Abby piece together her past, her choices, and navigate through what is happening in this current life.

And the boys – Josh & Michael. Oh the boys.  There was definitely one I was rooting for throughout, but I enjoyed how they both played into her parallel worlds and how connected they really were. I usually always prefer books that have a romantic story line involved. While there was this love triangle of sorts, the relationships didn’t get super involved, and with all the thought I had to put into this book to keep it straight, I was more than okay with that. Just the right amount of romance.

This book was one I really couldn’t set down, because I just wanted to know how it all played out in the end. I definitely had to pay attention or else I would confuse myself, but I think that’s what made it so fun. It also really makes you think about the choices you make and how everything can be affected by them. (It also sent me into an internet black hole on parallel universe theories).

Thank you, Andi, as always for a great book rec!

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Thanks Kelsey for having Parallel be New to You!

US ONLY. Ends 7/23/17 12:00am.

 

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Review Rewind: Parallel – Lauren Miller

In a little under 4 weeks one of my favorite authors, Lauren Miller, has a new book coming out. It’s been over 3 years since she released a new book and I have been excited for it ever since (spoiler alert: It was AMAZING). Since it has been a long time since we had a fantastic Miller book to gush about I’m taking the opportunity to share some fun Lauren Miller posts about her first two books, which I LOVED, Parallel and Free to Fall.

These next three days I am devouting to Parallel and July 26, 27 and 28 will be devouted to Free to Fall. There will also be giveaways at the end of each week for each of the books. Make sure you stop by and see why I love these books so much and hear from some other readers as well.

Sometimes you just love a book so much you feel the need to repost the review and that is what is happening here. I first read Parallel in March of 2013 and it was originally reviewed on my blog on May 2013. Since then I have read the book 2 more times and I’m still in love with it. These are my original thoughts on the book and truth…the all hold strong.

In my recent read I did discover a quote that I think describes the book perfectly:

Your path will change. Your destiny doesn’t.

Now, here’s my review.

Review Rewind: Parallel – Lauren MillerParallel by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen
on May 14th 2013
Amazon, Goodreads

Your plan changes. Your destiny doesn't.

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.


I kept hearing how amazing this book was so when a friend got an advanced copy and sent it to me I was siked! Jumping in I didn’t really know what to expect. Was it paranormal? Was it a contemporary? Would it be too much science and universe talk? The more I read the more I realized that it didn’t matter what category it fell into. It didn’t matter if there was science talk and if the concept seemed out there on the surface. All that mattered was how fantastic this book was and how it got me thinking. You see I have always been a fan of what I call ‘The Sliding Doors Effect'(after the movie which this book reminded me of) where one small choice/decision/incident can completely alter the life you live. That by taking a taxi two feet instead of walking in the rain can change how things play out. One small thing that you don’t even realize has happened can make a huge effect on everything, and Miller played that effect to perfection, hitting on everything I have ever thought about it. My thoughts are going to be hard to get down on paper as I don’t want to give anything away in regards to the story, but I will try.

Parallel is the story of Abby, a girl with a plan. She has known exactly what she was supposed to do her whole life. She was going to be a journalist after graduating from Northwestern and get a job at a huge newspaper. It was her plan, her calling, her goal. And then drama class happened and suddenly Abby was living in LA filming a movie and missing out on everything she dreamed. Resigned to her new life, but not necessarily happy about it, Abby celebrates the eve of her 18th birthday with her cast mates, but the next morning she wakes up in a Yale dorm with a completely different life like her past had been rewritten and she doesn’t remember anything. Stuck in this new life with memories of her old life, Abby has to navigate the constant changes and surprises and learn that sometimes life gets in the way of plans.

Did I mention that this book was fantastic? I mean really really really fantastic. Miller wrote this book in a pretty genius way that kept the story fresh and interesting. Knowing the background of Abby’s life and seeing the small changes that lead to her parallel life and everything different about it was done amazingly well. As you got further into the book and Abby started to remember more of her “life” it was easier as a reader to see the moment that changed things and created the situations Abby found herself it. With every turn of the page I felt like I was reading a new kind of book and I liked that.

I found Abby to be such a likable character as was her friend Caitlin. Watching them both navigate through the confusion that was Abby’s life was truly a joy given the fact that Abby had no idea what was going to happen to her on any given day. And watching as Josh, who I totally swooned over, was folded into the story was awesome. For a character that played such a minor role in the book, he was huge to the story, but in a way that you don’t really understand until you are a good chunk into the book. His presence and lack of, is one of the most important parts of the story and I loved how Miller dealt with that. It wasn’t in your face but on the surface and it worked for this story.

Honestly I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this debut novel by Lauren Miller. It touched on everything I love about a good story and kept you thinking the whole time. So much can change the outcome of your life but lead you right where you belong even if it is the last place you expect. Just because that butterfly flaps its wings in New York doesn’t mean the rain will never stop in China. You just might have to take the long way to get there. I can say without a doubt Lauren Miller has just become one of those authors that “if she writes it, I’m buying it”. Thanks Ms. Miller for awesomeness

Side note:
I’m not a usual book trailer kind of girl. But I watched the official trailer for Parallel and it is awesome! Just thought I would share it with all of you too.

 

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A Year in Reading: 5 Star Reads

Since January 1st I have read 28 books. 6 of those books have been 5 star rereads, 4 have been unrated as of yet, and 12 have fallen somewhere in between. But in all 28 of those books I have managed to read 6 new books that I have loved so much I have given them 5 stars. Most of these books aren’t out yet (mostly summer releases), one will be out a week from tomorrow, and one came out last year. Truthfully though I’m thrilled that 21% of my reading for 2017 has included new 5 star books.  Since I’m so excited about these 6 books I thought it was only fair to share and get you excited for them too.

A Year in Reading: 5 Star ReadsLetters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
on April 4th 2017
Amazon, Goodreads

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

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A Year in Reading: 5 Star ReadsAll Things New by Lauren Miller
Published by Three Saints Press
Goodreads

From the author of PARALLEL and FREE TO FALL comes a novel about how it feels to be broken and what it means to be real.
Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn't help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and noticeable scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels. Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but things go from bad to worse when she realizes she’s seeing bruises and scars on the people around her that no one else can see. She blames it on the accident, but as her body heals and the hallucinations continue, Jessa wonders if what she’s seeing could somehow have a deeper meaning. In her quest for answers, she falls for Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.
ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world.

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A Year in Reading: 5 Star ReadsA Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Amazon, Goodreads

KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER...
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

Catalia "Cat" Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods-and her homicidal mother-have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm-until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin's fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

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A Year in Reading: 5 Star ReadsThe Adjustment by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program #3
Amazon, Goodreads

How do you go back to a life you can’t remember? Find out in this follow up to the New York Times bestselling The Program and The Treatment.

Tatum Masterson never went through The Program. She never had her memory stripped, never had to fight to remain herself. But when Weston, her longtime boyfriend and love of her life, was taken by handlers, she hoped he’d remember her somehow—that their love would be strong enough.

It wasn’t.

Like all returners, Weston came back a blank canvas. The years he and Tatum spent together were forgotten, as well as the week when he mysteriously disappeared before The Program came for him.

Regardless of his memory loss, Tatum fights to get Weston to remember her. And just as they start to build a new love, they hear about the Adjustment—a new therapy that implants memories from a donor. Despite the risks, Tatum and Weston agree to go through the process. Tatum donates her memories from their time together.

But the problem with memories is that they are all a matter of perspective. So although Weston can now remember dating Tatum, his emotions don’t match the experiences. And this discrepancy is slowly starting to unravel him, worse than anything The Program could have done.

And as the truth of their life together becomes clear, Tatum will have to decide if she loves Weston enough to let him go, or to continue to live the lie they’d build together.

Prepare for your Adjustment.

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A Year in Reading: 5 Star ReadsThe Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Amazon, Goodreads

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

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A Year in Reading: 5 Star ReadsWords in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Amazon, Goodreads

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

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What 5 star books have you read so far this year? Are any of these on your TBR?

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On My Radar – Lauren Miller (8)

It is no secret that I’m a fan of Lauren Miller. I fell in love with her writing the second I started her debut novel Parallel back in March of 2013. She took a subject that I knew little about and made it readable and enjoyable. It quickly became a favorite of mine and it has been my goal to get anyone I can to read it. Parallel (currently $5.99 for Kindle) is smart and thought provoking. It makes you wonder what your life could have been like if you made one choice differently. If you went to a different college; applied for a job somewhere else; turned left instead of right. The characters where awesome and you really felt what the felt. Not to mention that one little twist that still gets me every time. I think it is a book everyone should read and I may not rest until that happens.

And then there was her second book, Free to Fall. Free to Fall (currently $3.99 for the Kindle) is so current. In a world where technology rules our lives it fit the scope of where the world is perfectly. It got you thinking about how we do let technology help us make decisions. We look on line now before we buy something to see what others think. We rely on it to talk to friends and make plans. Technology is everything in the world and Free to Fall takes it a tiny step further with technology being the only way to make decisions. Another fantastic character driven story with just a hint of dystopian/sci-fi to it.

What brought this post on? Miller’s third book, All Things New. I just finished it yesterday and it was so unbelievably amazing. It is probably Miller’s most real book to date. It has a hint of something to it that doesn’t make it a straight contemporary, but even with that the book is just so truthful and honest. It’s a story about a girl that is scarred from an accident and can suddenly seeing wounds on people that aren’t there. It’s a struggle about seeing what is below the surface and what people hide and how it is okay to not be okay. It was straight up fantastic and I think it is something that people need to read and I want it on your radar. You won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn’t.

On My Radar – Lauren Miller (8)All Things New by Lauren Miller
Published by Three Saints Press
on August 1st 2017
Goodreads

From the author of PARALLEL and FREE TO FALL comes a novel about how it feels to be broken and what means to be real.

Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn't help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and noticeable scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels. Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but things go from bad to worse when she realizes she’s seeing bruises and scars on the people around her that no one else can see. She blames it on the accident, but as her body heals and the hallucinations continue, Jessa wonders if what she’s seeing could somehow have a deeper meaning. In her quest for answers, she falls for Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world.

So now I ask, have you read a Lauren Miller book?

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Review: Free to Fall – Lauren Miller

Review: Free to Fall – Lauren MillerFree to Fall by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperCollins
on May 13th 2014
Format: ARC
Source: Author, Gifted
Amazon, Goodreads

What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?

What if you never had to fall?

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.

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Straight up, I am fangirl crushing on Lauren Miller. I can’t help it. I honestly have no free will over this. Her books have made me do it.

I first fell in love with Ms. Miller when I read her debut book Parallel (review). I’m a sucker for parallel life stories that emulate the amazing Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors. I was basically hooked from the first page. Then I heard about her second book, Free to Fall, and I was intrigued. It was completely different from Parallel but also really relevant to our current times and how technology takes over our lives. So when I was offered a copy I basically did an obnoxious chair dance and I did an even more obnoxious one when I finished reading it. Free to Fall did something I never expected it to do…it took over my live for Parallel and is now my favorite Lauren Miller book. Seriously amazing doesn’t even begin to cover my thoughts on this story.

Free to Fall is essentially and epic story about free will and our right to make decisions and mistakes. Basically the story is about Rory, a 15 year old girl that is offered the opportunity she has dreamed of, to attend Theden Academy in Massachusetts. Rory lives in a world where Google and Apple are obsolete and have been replaced by a company that is called Gnosis and there decision making app Lux. Like 99% of the public Rory relies on Lux to make all her decisions and her life generally easier. But when Rory gets to Theden she meets North, an off the grid hacker that does things old school, and everything starts to change for her. Soon she is falling head over heels for him and how she once saw things doesn’t seem so black and white anymore. She starts to question everything in her life and at Theden. As Rory digs deeper she starts to uncover some things she never thought she’d find out that change everything. Now instead of possibly just finding her first love, Rory may uncover something that could put her and the people she loves in danger.

My love for this book really defies words. From the first pages I was essentially hooked. So much in fact that I read it slow as I didn’t really want it to end because then it would be over and then what. I think what really got me was the way the story unfolded. It’s been a long time since a book has surprised me with where it was going and Free to Fall did just that. As the mystery started to unravel and reveal itself I was completely unsure where it would go. Miller wrote a lot of twists and turns in this story and they kept me on my toes. What could have been a confusing mess of clues and direction changes made the plot unexpected and really unbelievably fantastic. From Rory’s back story to the secrets of the past to the seemingly random world puzzles it all worked in a really great, uniquely clever tale.

Also I loved the plot. As a society we are addicted to technology. I personally am on my computer, tablet or iPhone more than I should be. I feel like it is an extension of me I away that I shouldn’t so I was totally fascinated by the idea of what technology could do in the not so distant future if we let it take over our lives. And as farfetched as it sounds the more I read of Free to Fall the more I believed in the possibility. As a society we are always trying to find ways to make daily activities easier and more streamlined. We want to constantly one better the product before which is both great and scary. So the idea that an app, not much different than Apple’s Siri, is used to make all life decisions isn’t as farfetched as one would think. Technology is a slippery slope that can easily go bad and Miller did a fantastic job of showing that without being preachy about it.

And to go along with the plot there were the characters. I was enthralled by this cast of characters. Whether it was the sometimes selfish, always over the top Hersey, the technology truster Rory, or the old school hacker North. They each played integral parts in the book and I think grew as characters which is really important to me. I loved North the second I met him and that love didn’t change as I read on. Rory it took time to get to know but as I found out more about her and as she started to change I really loved her. And Hersey was Hersey. She was one of those characters that can get on your nerves but you also need in a good story. Between these three and the other supporting cast Free to Fall is a great character story.

Look, I could go on and on about this book. I could tell you everything I loved in great detail. I could tell you about how Miller won me over even more with the fact that she obviously did her research on Boston which endeared me to her more. But really all you need to know is that this book is fantastic, will keep you thinking and on your toes, and will leaving you wanting more even though it is over 450 pages long. It’s basically the complete package and has made me a fan of Lauren Miller and her writing greatness for life. This is one book that you certainly do not want to miss. A must read for 2014 and on my top ten list for the year.

*Although this book was sent by the author, this is 100% my opinion.

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